ERIC Number: ED334558
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Hidden Agenda of Intensive, Systematic and Extensive Phonics.
Although proponents of "heavy" phonics instruction (intensive, systematic phonics instruction carried out extensively) argue that the literacy gap between minorities and the middle class can be closed by teaching phonics, heavy phonics instruction seems to be a tool for widening rather than closing the literacy gap between non-mainstream and mainstream children. Heavy phonics instruction may also be a tool for reinforcing and perpetuating socioeconomic inequalities. Heavy phonics instruction reflects the assumptions of a transmission model of education, and the hidden curriculum inherent in that model. While members of the political "far right" may not be aware of the typical effects of promoting a heavy emphasis on phonics, such instruction can be a weapon to further oppress those already less advantaged. A vastly disproportionate number of non-mainstream students are assigned to lower reading groups, where both the manner and the content of instruction contrast significantly with that offered in higher reading groups. The manner of instruction in lower reading groups socializes those students for subordinate roles in school and in society, while the content of instruction (keeping them busy with skills work instead of real reading) tends to prevent these students from learning to read well enough to achieve more rewarding roles. It is more democratic and more effective to help such children develop phonics know-how through the same means as their more advantaged peers: namely, through extensive and joyful experiences with reading, writing, and books. (One footnote is included; 36 references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues; Reading Theories
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Reading Association (36th, Las Vegas, NV, May 6-10, 1991).